Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Heidelberg Disputation Series Part 12, Theses 22 and 23: The Vital Union, Ritual, and Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 14, 2015

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So, I was over at my mom’s house minding my own business watching a little Fox News when I noticed a little booklet on the table beside the easy chair. I picked it up and observed the title: Devotions and Prayers of Martin Luther. Of course, I thought that would be interesting. When I opened it, I observed that my dad bought it for mom in 1962. That would be when her three boys, of which I am one would have been 6, 4, and 2. That’s three boys, 6, 4, and 2 which means she would have been needing a lot of prayers during that time. So this gift makes perfect sense. Anyway, I just indiscriminately cracked the thing open roughly in the middle to see what was there. Here is the prayer that I read:

Almighty God, great that we and all Christians may receive the holy sacrament savingly by thy grace. Give us our daily bread that Christ may abide in us and we in him, and that we may worthily bear the name Christians which we have received from him. Amen.

Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, part 12 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation – Theses 22 and 23: The Vital Union, Ritual, and Law.”

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Tonight, we continue in our sentence by sentence evaluation of the HD with thesis 22. This is where we get into the true heart of the Protestant Reformation which concerned philosophy, or state of being.

Anything to do with justification or soteriology was grounded in philosophical or metaphysical presuppositions. I opened tonight with an example of that. Notice that Luther prayed that salvation would be imparted to believers through participation in the Lord’s Table. Whether Protestants know it or not, that’s why the Lord’s Table is such a solemn ceremony in the church—it’s imparting salvation. The solemn examination of self while droopy faced deacons or elders pass around the holy plastic thimbles filled with either grape juice or real wine depending on the outcome of the Baptist civil war in your neck of the woods is the mortification part of the ceremony, and one should expect a joyful demeanor following, ie., vivification.

The Lord’s Table is one of the big five that you do to run the Protestant race of faith alone on the way to the one big final “tribunal” where you find out if you lived by faith alone well enough to make it into heaven. The other four are church membership, sitting under elder preaching, prayer (primarily confession of “present sin”), and the baptism of the holy spirit through mortification and vilification. These all result in the vital union also mentioned in the same prayer: “that Christ may abide in us and we in him.” So, in regard to the initial baptism signified by water baptism which also initiates one into membership, this same baptism is lived out through self deprivation of some sort leading to resurrection experiences of one sort or another—usually incited by praise and worship music.

The Lord’s Table was never some solemn ceremony in the Christian assemblies, but rather an informal remembrance of Christ’s death during the fellowship meal. As Rome began to take over the home fellowships and assert authority over them, the paganization of Christian traditions took place; not least of which is this idea of perpetual union, or becoming one with some god through some sort of ritual. I would like you to observe the black chart on the slide show. Remember, this is not our chart, this is a visual illustration of the vital union, a formal Protestant doctrine.

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Notice that in this case, the union takes place through the “deep repentance” process noted on the left. Obviously, if the process on the left is not a onetime event, nether is the right side of the chart. Notice the title of the chart: fundamentally, Protestantism is a returning to the same gospel that saved you in order to relive the baptism of the Spirit over and over again. In other words, the “new birth” is not a onetime event that makes you part of God’s family. The goal of the so-called Christian life is new birth experiences in which the works of Christ are manifested in our realm or through us (double imputation). The Reformers draw from a number of different metaphysical theories to explain this like Idealism philosophy. That is the idea that reality only exists in the perception of the mind, and God is in control of the perceptions. But that is only one angle among many.

But let’s take that example as a way to explain how this all works. Protestantism is about justification by faith…ALONE throughout the whole course of our life. So, it begs the question: how does one live, which assumes human activity prompted by cranium activity, by faith alone? How does one work meditatively? Well, if the work you are doing is really nothing more than perception placed there by God, you aren’t really doing the work, right? You are only EXPERIENCING what Christ accomplished when He was living on earth. He lived out a perfect life for us (double imputation) which is now experienced through the vital union (“I’m in him, He’s in me”). This is also known as Christ for us, or Christ 100% for us. But you say, “But look at the top part of the chart! It says “heart changed.” Ok, let’s go to another Reformed illustration.

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What does the downward trajectory represent? Right, the left side of the other chart. What does the upward trajectory represent? Right, the right side of the chart. What does the cross represent? Right, the cross on the other chart. Now, what changes, you or the cross? Right, you don’t change, and in fact, if you fail to see how sinful you are the bottom trajectory goes up and the cross gets smaller. So, what is the authentic Protestant definition of “heart change”? Right, a mere perception or experience. I have at times likened this to standing in the rain. You experience the rain, you feel the rain, but you have no control over the rain. You are not doing the rain. Sanctification is being done to you, not by you. But you do something—you merely participate in the experience of salvation—it’s experiential only. This is how you supposedly live by faith alone.

This idea of being unified or becoming one with a god through some ritual is expressly pagan. Of course, what immediately comes to mind is the Aphrodite cults throughout history. This idea of union with a god through sexual intercourse with a temple prostitute even crept into the first century home assemblies:

1Corinthians 6:14 – And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sine a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

From the historian Herodotus we learn:

The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger at least once in her life. Many women who are rich and proud and disdain to mingle with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams, and stand there with a great retinue of attendants. But most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite, with crowns of cord on their heads; there is a great multitude of women coming and going; passages marked by line run every way through the crowd, by which the men pass and make their choice. Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, “I invite you in the name of Mylitta” (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite). It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. So she follows the first man who casts it and rejects no one. After their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her. So then the women that are fair and tall are soon free to depart, but the uncomely have long to wait because they cannot fulfil the law; for some of them remain for three years, or four. There is a custom like this in some parts of Cyprus (Herodotus, The Histories 1.199, tr A.D. Godley 1920).

What is our major concluding point here? That authentic Protestantism traded the biblical definition of the new birth, a onetime event that makes us a permanent part of God’s literal family, for the ongoing experience of so-called vital union, and that Protestantism’s way of obtaining that experience is just one among many not excluding the ritual of temple prostitution. It’s the same idea; temporary experiential union in contrast to a permanent new birth and onetime Spirit baptism.

Also, and more to the point regarding this area of the HD, is that these rituals necessarily take the place of knowledge because of the authentic Protestant worldview. More on that shortly, but let me now address a comment received this week on PPT.com because it’s a good example of the waters of confusion that Protestants swim in as a result of historical ignorance.

This honestly saddens me… I just finished reading Platt’s “Radical”, and I don’t feel that he deserves this. My understanding of his book is “if you truly love Jesus, it will change your life”. Platt is living out John 14:21 by obeying God’s commands to take care of the poor and needy, and living out Matthew 28:18-20 in bringing the gospel to all nations. This book (and Platt’s life) is designed to get the church on board with the mission of God, and is built on passages like 1 John 3:16-18. I’d much rather be like Platt, trying to get the church involved in the mission of God, instead of sitting in the pews screaming at anyone who doesn’t agree with what they think. Honestly, how can we call ourselves followers of a God (who IS love), and then unlovingly thrash another human being? Maybe we should read 1 John 4:21 before we start hating on a brother? Just a thought… lest we be condemned before God for not loving him.

More than likely, the individual who wrote this comment doesn’t understand how authentic Protestantism interprets the reality that Platt appears to be calling people to. More than likely, a more careful examination of the sentences in the book would paint a different picture. Platt is a Neo-Calvinist purist and would hold to almost everything in the HD, so let us consider thesis 24 in comparison to the reader’s comment:

He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand.

Platt is therefore not “living out” anything nor is he calling others to do so. Platt isn’t really talking about good works in the book, but rather manifestations of Christ’s imputed righteousness. It is VERY unlikely that Platt does not hold to double imputation.

Again, this soteriology is necessarily the application of the Reformed world philosophy of choice integrated with Scripture.

Thesis 22: That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

This has already been said. Because men do not know the cross and hate it, they necessarily love the opposite, namely, wisdom, glory, power, and so on. Therefore they become increasingly blinded and hardened by such love, for desire cannot be satisfied by the acquisition of those things which it desires. Just as the love of money grows in proportion to the increase of the money itself, so the dropsy of the soul becomes thirstier the more it drinks, as the poet says: »The more water they drink, the more they thirst for it.«The same thought is expressed in Eccles. 1:8: »The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.« This holds true of all desires.

Thus also the desire for knowledge is not satisfied by the acquisition of wisdom but is stimulated that much more. Likewise the desire for glory is not satisfied by the acquisition of glory, nor is the desire to rule satisfied by power and authority, nor is the desire for praise satisfied by praise, and so on, as Christ shows in John 4:13, where he says, »Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again.«

The remedy for curing desire does not lie in satisfying it, but in extinguishing it. In other words, he who wishes to become wise does not seek wisdom by progressing toward it but becomes a fool by retrogressing into seeking»folly«. Likewise he who wishes to have much power, honor, pleasure, satisfaction in all things must flee rather than seek power, honor, pleasure, and satisfaction in all things. This is the wisdom which is folly to the world.

Therefore, the Reformation called for the eradication of all knowledge as an evil lust that cannot be satisfied. Consequently, the Bible only has ONE use:

Thesis 23: The »law brings the wrath« of God (Rom. 4:15), kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not in Christ.

Thus Gal. 3:13 states, »Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law«; and:»For all who rely on works of the law are under the curse« (Gal. 3:10); and Rom. 4:15: »For the law brings wrath«; and Rom. 7:10: »The very commandment which promised life proved to be the death of me«; Rom. 2:12: »All who have sinned without the law will also perish without law.«Therefore he who boasts that he is wise and learned in the law boasts in his confusion, his damnation, the wrath of God, in death. As Rom. 2:23 puts it:»You who boast in the law.«

Hence, the Bible only aids us in self condemnation in regard to the downward trajectory on the cross chart and the process of vital union. The Bible is not to be used to gain any kind of knowledge, but is only a tool for self-condemnation, or “death at hand” in order to experience the vivification of what Reformed soteriology defines as the new birth. As seen in the summary of the 22nd thesis, any notion that objective conclusions can be drawn from that which is seen is utter wickedness according to this view.

That concludes tonight’s lesson, let’s go to the phones.

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